On Jan. 1, Mancos author Mark Stevens’ book “The Fireballer” will officially release to readers in hardback, paperback and audio formats.
The 401-page fiction book follows the story of professional baseball legend Frank Ryder, who is haunted by a tragic accident in his past. It will take a visit home to find reconciliation and forgiveness from the people in his life, and even himself before he can move forward. The book’s synopsis describes “Fireballer” as a “lyrical, moving story of undeniable talent and the life-changing power of forgiveness and a subtly romantic ode to America’s favorite pastime.”
The idea for “The Fireballer” originally came from a friend. Before this, Stevens hadn’t tried to write a book outside of the thriller genre, but was intrigued with the story idea and decided to give it a shot.
“The idea for this one came to me from a friend who actually suggested the whole concept in 2018,” Stevens said. It ended up taking a year-and-a-half to finish the book, and he noted it was the fastest he had ever written a book.
Completely switching genres from thriller to a novel about the power of reconciliation and forgiveness wasn’t easy, but Stevens said he kept writing and kept moving forward.
The switch was “scary, scary scary,” he said.
“I’ve always thought in terms of crime fiction, like that feeling of resolution. Either the killer gets killed or the killer gets captured,” he said. “I felt daunted by the idea of writing a straight-up novel, but I just dove in and tried to apply what I’d learned in terms of tension and dialogue and tried to just see where it went. I just kept writing one page at a time.”
While he finished his book in early 2020, COVID-19 made it more difficult to find a publisher. Now, his book is finally ready to get into the hands of readers, making it an exciting start to 2023.
In a nutshell, Stevens said his book is about the world of baseball, and it dives into the current state of the game where fast pitchers are dominating and hitters are struggling to keep up.
“It’s also a deeply emotional journey for a very troubled pitching phenom,” he said. “To me, I think of it as two stories in one. You’ve got the bigger question about baseball itself, and you’ve got the very personal journey of Frank and his mental health because that’s ultimately what he’s dealing with. He just doesn’t know it.”
Stevens lives in Mancos and has lived there with his wife for 3½ years. He was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts, by his librarian parents before moving to Denver and raising his daughters there with his wife.
Before becoming an author, he was a reporter, a producer for national television news and worked in public relations. While he has been writing since the 1980s, he didn’t see his first book published until 2007.
“I started writing fiction in 1983; I didn’t get published until 2007, so it took a long time,” Stevens said.
Before “The Fireballer,” he published a series of five award-winning books in the thriller/mystery genre.
One of the books, “Trapline,” won the Colorado Book Award in 2016, and two of the other books in the series were finalists for the same award in 2012 and 2015.
In 2016, he won the Rocky Mountain Writers’ Writer of the Year distinction. Currently, along with his writing, he is a host for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast and is the president of the Rocky Mountain chapter for Mystery Writers of America.
Stevens ended with a word of advice for those who are interested in writing a book of their own but may be too nervous or unsure to begin.
“Start!” Stevens said. “Even if it’s just a short story or a journal. Make a list of stories you’d like to write. If you’re in a coffee shop and two people are talking across the way and you can’t hear them, just imagine what they’re talking about and look at their body language. Just get in the habit of putting words on a page.”
“The Fireballer” by Mark Stevens will be available to read on Jan. 1, 2023.